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Exclusive: PGA Tour to release new "strokes gained" statistic after the Barclays

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

If you like statistics, brace yourself, because the golf world is about to get a little more wonderfully wonky.

PGA Tour officials confirmed this week it will launch the new strokes gained/tee to green statistic on Monday following the Barclays, adding to their already growing repertoire of online metrics.

Strokes gained/tee to green will sit alongside the tour's current stats like greens in regulation and fairways hit, and like strokes gained/putting, the metric was developed in conjunction with Columbia University professor Mark Broadie. The tour has been gathering this data since 2008 through its ShotLink system, and will publish the statistic starting from that year on its website.

"This is the next step of our evolution," Steve Evans, the tour's head of Information Systems and overseer of the ShotLink system, which is underpinned by CDW, said. "But we're trying to create new performance metrics that are more telling than some of the current statistics."

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Evans said the PGA Tour plans to expand on its strokes gained/putting statistic with metrics like strokes gained/driving and strokes gained/approach shots sometime in 2015. But with those formulas still being devised, the tour didn't want to wait to introduce the new, simpler metric. 

The way strokes gained/tee to green works is relatively straightforward: Let's say the field's scoring average for Sunday at the Barclays is even-par 72. Imagine, then, that Keegan Bradley shoots 70 and his strokes gained/putting stat for the day is one -- meaning that he gains one stroke on the field through his putting. In that scenario, Bradley gained the other stroke on the field from tee-to-green, so his strokes gained/tee to green figure that day would be one.

A statistic like greens in regulations, which Evans says will remain a useful metric, can be swayed in ways that strokes gained/tee to green can't. If Adam Scott, for example, only plays in the toughest events -- events where it's harder to hit greens in regulation -- his greens-hit percentage will likely be lower than someone who only plays in events where it's easier to hit greens. That essentially masks the fact that Adam Scott is the superior ball-striker of the two.

"It's not perfect," Evans said. "But I think we're going to reveal some things people didn't expect, sometimes we're going to confirm what they were thinking, and hopefully explain why certain players are winning."


Below is the top ten leaders with the highest strokes gained/tee to green average from the start of the season, through the WGC-Bridgestone.

Rank Player Average
1 Sergio Garcia 2.160
2 Rory McIlroy 1.936
3 Jim Furyk 1.639
4 Hideki Matsuyama 1.622
5 Bubba Watson 1.511
6 Justin Rose 1.465
7 Graham DeLaet 1.267
8 Charl Schwartzel 1.263
9 Ryan Moore 1.239
10 Matt Kuchar 1.223

 

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